Forest Restoration in Indochina.

FORRU, in association with the U.K's East Malling Research (EMR) and Wildlife

, received support from 
the Darwin Initiative to expand our extension services over 3 years (2005-2008) to three regional countries. This initiative was to facilitate restoration of forest ecosystems for biodiversity recovery in Indochina, by transferring skills and proven technologies to key stakeholders in China , Laos and Cambodia . FORRU assisted them to develop local versions of the framework species technique and design Forest Restoration Research and Training Units in their own countries, based on the existing model that FORRU developed in northern Thailand, suited to their own local ecological and socio-economic conditions. In addition, a new manual, Research for Restoring Tropical Forests was produced, and concise versions of How to Plant A Forest were adapted and translated into the language of each country.
All the reports from this project are available from the 
Darwin Initiative website.

Project Outcomes

The purpose of the project was to improve the institutional capacity of the host country partners to undertake restoration of natural forest ecosystems for biodiversity recovery. The project achieved all of its outputs, which included: raised awareness of what can be achieved in a forest restoration programme for biodiversity; successfully trained officials from the host country institutes; publication of two manuals to support this work in each partner country; and implementation plans for establishment of national forest restoration research units (FORRUs) in each country. In addition, an extra workshop was included to allow all the host countries to meet early in the final year; the final project workshop was transformed into a major international conference, by attracting matching funds from IUCN, FAO and the British Embassy, Bangkok. This provided the country partners with access to a wide range of potential supportive agencies, detailed critiques of their national FORRU plans and technical advice.

The ultimate goal was for key stakeholders in China, Cambodia and Lao to implement their 'implementation plans' for model forest restoration research programmes in their respective countries. Since the completion of the project in March 2008, Implementation of FORRU-China is being planned under the joint Sino-UK bilateral forestry agreement, launched in Beijing last September, with collaboration between The UK Forestry Commission, Chinese State Forestry Administration and ICRAF-China. UK Forestry Commission officials will meet with ICRAF-China and FORRU-CMU in Yunan Province in April 2009 to finalize the proposal. In Lao, the partners are following up contacts and leads provided by the participants of the final Darwin workshop, to raise funding for a FORRU-Lao. The Darwin Initiative is supporting the project "A forest restoration research unit facilitating biodiversity recovery in Cambodia"
, which represents the first stage of the FORRU-Cambodia programme, between 2009 and 2011.

Project Outline

In the first year of the project (2005 - 2006), Workshops on the Principals & Practice of Forest Restorationwere held for each country group at FORRU’s research nursery, community nursery and demonstration plots in Chiang Mai. Training covered both the principles and practices of the framework species method to accelerate biodiversity recovery in planted forests. These workshops were 7-10 days in duration and were attended by up to 15 key personnel from forestry organizations in each country.

Second year (2006 - 2007), these organizations held workshops in their own countries. These in-country workshops were be attended by a wider range of stake-holders identified by each participating organization, and were designed to assist each country to plan their own versions of FORRU.

In the final year (2007- 2008) of the project, a final workshop was held in Chiang Mai for everyone involved in the project to discuss and improve the country FORRU plans. Funding agencies were also be invited to this workshop with a view to generating financial support for each country to establish its own FORRUs.

First Year Outputs (2005 - 2006)
In the first year, we hosted 3 workshops in Chiang Mai for Chinese, Laotian, and Cambodian participants.

The first workshop in 16-25 June 2005 welcomed participants from both Yunan and Sichuan Provinces of southern China . In addition, Dr. David Blakesley and Dr. Neil Hips represented East Malling Research, the project’s implementing organization. Chinese participants joined in the tree planting event at Ban Mae Sa Mai and showed a great deal of enthusiasm throughout the workshop.

The second workshop, for Laotians was held from August 23rd to September 2nd, with similarly successful outputs. A mix of forestry personnel and university academics provided a variety of ideas and inputs. In addition, this workshop also welcomed 2 forest officers from Krabi, in southern Thailand , where FORRU is collaborating with the U.K.'s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on a project to restore habitat for Thailand's rarest bird species, Gurney's Pitta.

The last workshop, for Cambodians, was completed with 15 key personnel from Cambodia in 1-11 November 2005. In addition, Ms. Dina Gallick and Mr. Tim Grigg from the Humid Tropical Biome from the EDEN UK., joined this workshop as welcomed guests. The enthusiasm of the participants was overwhelming, with a lot of fruitful discussions between participants and villagers in Ban Mae Sa Mai, our demonstration site and model village.

Second Year Outputs (2006 - 2007)

For the 2nd year of Darwin outreach, the in-country workshops in Laos , Cambodia , and China were held in July, October 2006 and March 2007 respectively. The workshop was attended by a wider range of stake-holders identified by each country. Please find out more details below;

The first workshop, Forest Restoration Research in Lao PDR was held in 3–7 July 2006, Vientiane , Lao PDR. The participants drafted a comprehensive integrated FORRU plan and visited Sangthong district to assess existing herbarium and nursery facilities. They looked at potential sites for field trials and phenology trail. A tree planting ceremony marked the occasion.

The second workshop, Principle and Practice for Forest Restoration: Establishment and Management of a Forest Restoration Research Unit in Cambodia was held in 13–15 October 2006, Phnom Penh , Cambodia . The participants assessed prospective sites for FORRU during field trips to Khampong Thom and Phanom Kulen in the world heritage site Angkor Park. In addition, a draft of the Khmer language version of "How to Plant a Forest" was reviewed. 

The last workshop, “International Workshop on Forest Restoration ” was held on the 13–15 March 2007, Tengchong , Yunnan , China . The participants were treated to field trips to magnificent Goaligongshan National Nature Reserve where a phenology trials winds through a beautiful rhododendron forest. At nursery, germination trials and seed storage experiments are already underway and a herbarium has been initiated. Participants discussed proposals for extending the work. The work here has been a spectacular success so far.

Final Year (2007-2008)

This project culminated in a international conference hosted by FORRU-CMU in Chiang Mai from the 12th to the 14th of March 2008, at which plans for the establishment of forest restoration research units in each of the 3 countries were presented and their implementation and funding discussed.

In addition, the workshop included presentations from guest speakers of various support and donor agencies, case studies of other examples of forest restoration research, a field excursion to a model forest restoration project and a forum to discuss both the scientific and logistical aspects of research programs to develop appropriate techniques to restore Indochina’s dwindling natural forest ecosystems. The workshop focused on scientific and technical aspects of forest restoration research for the conservation of biodiversity and environmental protection.


  • To present and discuss country plans to establish Forest Restoration Research Units in Cambodia, China and Laos.
  • To explore potential funding mechanisms and implementation of the FORRU’s.
  • To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on forest restoration research in Indochina.
  • To launch the publications: “How to Plant a Forest” in 5 languages and “Research for the Restoration of Tropical Forest Ecosystems”.